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The Battle of the Fruit and Vegetable Soldiers
March 18, 2014 11:01 PM   Subscribe

Darwin's Children Drew All Over the On The Origin of Species Manuscript.
posted by ShooBoo (19 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
This makes me happy, for no reason I can articulate.
posted by Harald74 at 11:15 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


Some of the reasons it touches me - Darwin can not have helped thinking about how his children came to be, how they derived their indivual characteristics. I believe this because as a researcher, when I'm interested in any particular framework, it is a hammer to every nail concept around me. As an artist, I have very clear memories as a child, drawing a similar (but more contemporary clothing) woman on the pages of a diary, and as a mother, some of my best portraits of my children were edited by them with a similar, bold, scribble style. It reminds me how similar we are, despite the passage of time (not Darwin and me, but anybody then and anybody now) and that the differences are sometimes clearly a question of contemporaneous fashion - we are parents, children, scribblers, thinkers, and our children disrespect our work, as much as ever, even if it is destined to become a seminal piece of scientific thinking. Also, it's still fun to draw birds, butterflies and people on horses who disagree with each other. But thank you Harald74, your first phrase is exactly what I wanted to say, but you already had, so lots more words.
posted by b33j at 11:46 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


You tend to assume children in a Victorian house were somewhat disciplined and even repressed, but these nice drawings suggest a happy bunch who largely did what they liked.
posted by Segundus at 12:14 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Segundus, Darwin was a famously easygoing and affectionate father, always enlisting his children in experiments and observations.
posted by tavella at 12:20 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


This is great on so many levels... The parent scholar, The kids eye view of what is around them... And what about the archival problem of doodling?...
posted by chapps at 12:37 AM on March 19


great! Should be animated, monty-python style...
posted by greenhornet at 12:50 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Funny though, to see on that diary page this passage: ... slept tolerably but much flatulence. Had an egg & toast this morning ...

Wonder if she could imagine people around the world reading that all those years later ...
posted by woodblock100 at 12:57 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I'm not convinced those doodles aren't Darwin's.
posted by philip-random at 1:17 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


For the most part, kids art is confined to a single sheet of paper or a special book. These sheets get saved for a piece of time, possibly filed away - paired down over years and the best pieces are held onto to generate a sense of nostalgia. Some children are content with this, but others have adapted special techniques to ensure the survival of the art. The walls, for instance, provide a huge canvas for art and display, but a scrub brush and a Sunday morning can render this street art no more. To truly ensure the survival of art, a child must identify what is important to an adult - what must be saved at all costs... In other words, if your dad is writing a book - that's the best place to ensure your art survives. This, while it may seem like natural selection, is not. This is where man's mastery is passed onto his children, and the child's artwork has been artificially selected for survival
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:43 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


I'm not convinced those doodles aren't Darwin's.

More to the point, some of them are clear collaborations. Instead of freaking out that his kids drew carrot and eggplant riding soldiers on his work, or wasted a whole page of expensive paper on a drawing of a house, he took some time to apply watercolor to brighten them up.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:59 AM on March 19


Gwen Raverat's memoir Period Piece offers something of a snapshot of the large family, all the siblings being her uncles. She was Charles Darwin's granddaughter. I think in the book she refers to her father as 'Uncle George', I expect in the interests of consistency. Darwin is not present in the book as he had died before she was born (?) but her grandmother is - it's a bit confusing with the Grandmothers because of the cousin marriage.

What a wonderful, charming, witty, beautiful memoir of growing up in a large, loving eccentric family ( the Darwin's) in England before WW1. Superbly written, it made me nostalgic for a childhood filled with the freedom to run free and use your imagination to amuse yourself. This memoir does not read in chronological order, but is instead divided into subjects, such as Uncles, Aunts, Clothing, Religion, Amusements, etc. I gave this book 4 stars because it was a joy to read. (review at Good Reads.)

Gwen Raverat was a fantastic artist.
posted by glasseyes at 5:03 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Hijacking another lovely quote from Good Reads (quote of a quote because this is Raverat):

“Of course we always felt embarrassed if our grandfather were mentioned, just as we did if God were spoken of. In fact, he was obviously in the same category as God and Father Christmas. Only with our grandfather, we also felt modestly, that we ought to disclaim any virtue of our own in having produced him. Of course it was very much to our credit, really to own such a grandfather; but one mustn’t be proud or show off about it…”
posted by glasseyes at 5:07 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


I love this evidence that the children of scientists are inextricably involved in their parent's work, whether peripherally or more centrally.

Also, I love that children are still drawing houses the same way, regardless of the century. Houses are square. Cats sit in windows. Smoke comes from the chimney.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 7:10 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Gwen Raverat's memoir Period Piece

This book should be much, much more widely known than it is. It is absolutely delightful in every way, and a fascinating portrait of a society undergoing a rapid change from the late C19t to the early C20th. And the Darwin family comes across as wonderfully eccentric but enormously kind, tolerant and loving.
posted by yoink at 7:25 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


That's quite charming. Thanks for the post.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:19 AM on March 19


I love it. I love the chimney pots and the cat in the window, and especially the vegetables.

I have a drawing that my friend's 4-year-old gave me the last time I visited - I think I'll try to keep it forever.
posted by Elly Vortex at 1:33 PM on March 19


I'm another Period Piece enthusiast. I first read it when I was twelve and living in Cambridge myself, and it's been part of my interior landscape ever since. I re-read it every year or two, and love it even more every time.
posted by tangerine at 2:54 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


This is great. Thanks, ShooBoo.
posted by homunculus at 5:21 PM on March 19


Just as an aside, if you really love kids art (and some of it is beautiful in a wistful way) it actually looks quite nice in a real frame. Or, you can scan it all in item by item and save it in a digital museum/library.
posted by stargell at 7:23 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


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